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Archive for September, 2008


Nearly everyone who has experienced verbal abuse in a religious setting feels disillusioned. It’s a typical human response. You’ve been hurt, and your natural inclination is to “throw the baby out with the bath.” Because you don’t want to be hurt again, you withdraw emotionally, or you lash out at those who have hurt you.

That’s very normal-even predictable; but I would like to challenge you to look at what happened from a different perspective, which may be very helpful to you.

Forget about what happened or was said about you and the person who said it—at least for a moment. Just put it aside. When you do, try looking at this from the Lord’s position. In order to mold you for His purposes, you had to be a broken. Without being broken, you didn’t really need to depend on Him. You could depend on yourself for most things—and did. It isn’t that you needed to learn a lesson as much as you needed to unlearn things.

When you think of it from this perspective, your problem had a purpose—a Divine purpose. Don’t continue to live in the deception of disillusionment. Thank God for what happened. I know it’s difficult, but it will help turn your despair into strong, resilient joyfulness-not all at once but over time.

Do it today. If you do, you’ll be amazed at the emotional freedom you experience.

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This is a great comment on My Spirit Was Crushed.

Gratitude is an important concept. It should be the norm but it rarely is. You are exactly right, Jack. If gratitude is you bent, it is very difficult to form or hold a grudge. Actually, your growth at this time in your life is as much fueled by your growing spiritual maturity as the release of the various bondages you had carried for so long. This was indeed a liberating part of your excellent book Hi My Name Is Jack.

Gary

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An excerpt from my story: Hi, My Name Is Jack

Thinking back, I remembered meeting with John Brown at my fraternity in 1964. He told me God loved me and had a wonderful plan for my life. In my nineteen-year-old mind, I thought God’s plan would make me more successful and spare me from some of the debilitating problems that destroyed so many. I loved what I heard from John and embraced it readily. But it wasn’t really true—at least not the way I interpreted it. God wanted me rich in character, and He would go to any lengths to accomplish His goal. I was a hard case; it took quite a bit of effort. It still does—unfortunately.

I also thought of AA and why God had delivered me from compulsive drinking. Perhaps it was so that I could have a deeper understanding of what was important in life and share my insights with others—as I’m doing now. Regardless, in all of my difficulties, returning to alcohol never seemed like a worthwhile option; and I remained sober.

In the year that followed, while in the valley, I learned the values of joy, kindness, and longsuffering. There was no other way for me to embrace positive character qualities than to learn from my many mistakes. It just wasn’t in my nature to choose a softer, easier way. Irishmen are like that. It’s why people love us and hate us at the same time.

Going to church again became routine for me, and I decided to join The Church of the Faithful. To join, however, I had to give “my testimony” so that they could see if I was really a born-again Christian or not. I sat down with an assistant pastor, James Sexton, who wore a gray suit and a pleasant smile After some small talk, he asked me to begin, and I did. I told him the whole thing—in abbreviated form, of course; and he sat there and let me talk. Normally, these interviews lasted about thirty minutes. Mine required two hours, and James’s face was the same gray color as his suit when I finished. But he was not critical, not in the least—just interested and accepting.

I joined the following Sunday morning and have been a part of this church ever since, participating in many—but not all—of the activities there. I especially enjoy my small group where I’m completely accepted. Some things were looking up, and Connie’s time of stalling was about to come to an end.

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An excerpt from my story: Hi, My Name Is Jack

Often in life, it’s the little things that count, and that’s what happened with me. By expressing gratitude for what I had—rather than focusing on what I didn’t, the dynamics of my life changed completely. From that precise moment, I started developing a thankful attitude instead of the negative, defeated one that had typified my life for the past couple of years. Without Judy to tell me how worthless I was, I started believing that God still loved me and had a plan for me—a plan that had a future and a hope.

When I awoke each morning, I looked forward to the day rather than dreading it. I was alive again; and because I was, one more chain was broken, freeing me to be the kind of man God always intended me to be. Gratitude and acceptance had set another part of my soul free. I stopped blaming people and circumstances for my lot in life. I wasn’t a victim; it all had a purpose which I would understand at some point. Having several experiences with trusting God, when I saw no way out, helped—a little.

By embracing gratitude rather than resentment, it became much easier to develop an attitude of forgiveness—which I did. Interestingly, the person who was really set free by the forgiveness was me—not Connie, Barbara, Judy, or anybody else. From that point forward, I stopped bemoaning my lot in life, choosing instead to believe everything that had happened was for a purpose—a purpose I would eventually discern. This made it much easier not to hold a grudge against any of them.

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From My story, Hi, My Name Is Jack.

At the same time, I knew how destructive suicidal ideations were and that a lot of my self-destructive feelings might be from low blood sugar; so I decided to eat the stale cereal. Getting up from my chair in the living room and going to the refrigerator, everything changed—in the twinkling of an eye, so to speak. From the living room to the refrigerator was thirty feet. In the time it took me to walk that distance, my entire life changed, and it has never been the same since. While walking, I realized, “I have something to eat.” In the crucible of all of my troubles, God did not leave me hungry; I had food. He was taking care of me in the midst of all of my tortuous circumstances. So I thanked Him for providing nourishment—not a perfunctory blessing, which the self-righteous love so much, but a deep, heartfelt thanks that came from the depth of my soul. “Thank You, Father, for the food I’m about to receive. Thank You.”

God likes that kind of stuff—big time. He knows the difference between genuine gratitude and elegant, but meaningless, drivel. It took two seconds to say, “Thank You”; that’s all—two seconds. When I was done, I sat down and enjoyed my food—free from any self-destructive thoughts.

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For the next few days, I’m going to share a chapter out of my personal life, which shows how far God can take you when you let Him. It’s out of my story, Hi, My Name Is Jack.

Be sure to read each part.

With Judy gone, along with her duplicity and manipulation, it was much easier to focus on Barbara Billings and all of the fraud she brought into my life. Dealing with “my CPA” was neither as difficult to do nor as emotionally draining as I expected, and it was nice to have one more part of the problem resolved. I was making progress. In truth, however, Barbara was the smallest and least stressful issue on my plate.

My biggest problem was my inability to satisfy the constant flow of creditors with their insatiable need for payment—money that I just didn’t have. In the past, I had been used to making a substantial income. Because I worked for myself, I was able to expense most of my entertainment, travel, automobiles, and restaurants. My lifestyle had been quite comfortable for years, and it was very difficult to be constantly broke—especially since I had earned so much more than I had. I went from making more than $100,000 a year for ten years to making minus $17,000 in 2000. That’s right. I spent $17,000 more than I made, and it wasn’t enough—not nearly enough. The creditors kept hammering at me—more, more, more. Their grinding demands took a toll on me at every level of my life. It became debilitating.

It became so difficult emotionally that, one Saturday night, I didn’t have a dime. There was nothing to eat in the house—other than stale cereal and a little milk to go on it. I was hungry. My spirit was crushed, and I thought the world might be better off without me. At least, my insurance would pay off all my debts—with enough left to finish my child support for Jordan. This was it; suicide seemed the only way out. I was at absolute rock bottom. I had never felt sorrier for myself in my entire life—not even close. I had no desire to go on and wished I were dead. That’s exactly how I felt, and I thought of how I would exit this world.

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PART 2: Why I Write “Pushing Jesus”


Here is another comment, which is right on target.

Jack,

I realize you don’t do this for the rewards that come as result of this work. However, some rewards mean more than others.

Touching others with the Word of God, no matter in what language or format, is what real life is all about. When people get tired of their feeble efforts to construct a meaningful life of value out of denial of their problems and wrong beliefs, they harbor it is an act of pure grace for them to find real help in their time and position of need.

Pushing Jesus is touching some of these people and leading them onto a new path. One that, if they stay on it and pay the price, leads to a truth-based existence and a hope for a life that will make a difference for God. Just like your life is doing.

Gary

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